The U.S. senators representing Maryland and Virginia have written a letter to Metro’s CEO, calling for transparency and action as the public transportation system deals with the fallout of a train derailment earlier this month.
Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, of Virginia, told Metro CEO Paul Wiedefeld Thursday that they were “eager to hear from you in a timely manner on your plans to address the specific safety concerns associated with last week’s derailment …”
The derailment on Oct. 12 in a tunnel between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery was the result of a known issue on 7000 Series trains that allowed the wheels of the train to shift too far apart on their axles.
The senators, all Democrats, asked that steps be taken to embed safety into the culture of the organization as a means of restoring public confidence.
The derailment led to all 7000 Series train cars being removed from service. Metro had reportedly experienced the issue with the Kawasaki-made trains dating back to 2017. The senators said the idea that Metro knew of the problem, but did not address it, made left them “deeply troubled.”
“We appreciate your early indications that you will cooperate with the NTSB investigation. Our expectation is that this will include thorough and timely responses to questions about the history of WMATA’s awareness of safety concerns with the 7000 Series rail cars,” the letter reads. “Residents of the National Capital Region deserve a safe, reliable, and well-functioning transit system.”
Wiedefeld said Metro is working with Kawasaki to create a new inspection process for their train cars in order to address safety concerns. He said there is currently not a timetable for a full return to service for the 7000 Series train cars.